Home Food & Beverage Restaurant Review: Gris-Gris, New Orleans (AKA: Why You Need To Eat At Places Outside The Tourist Area)

Restaurant Review: Gris-Gris, New Orleans (AKA: Why You Need To Eat At Places Outside The Tourist Area)

by joeheg

When you visit New Orleans, there are plenty of places in the French Quarter for you to eat. However, we’ve learned something from living in a tourist town (like Orlando): while there may be some great places to eat in the tourist areas, you will pay a premium. You’ll find much better food for reasonable prices if you travel outside the bubble. This is one reason we decided to rent an Airbnb instead of staying in a hotel in the French Quarter.

We had chased James Beard Award winners by eating at Commander’s Palace, Herbsaint and Cochon. However, we didn’t limit our choices to chefs who won a fancy award. Our travel partners were keen to try a restaurant we had never heard about. While we couldn’t find a reservation for dinner, we managed to squeeze in a late lunch, which was incredible.

1800 Magazine Street, New Orleans, Louisiana

We knew nothing about Gris-Gris before our friends suggested eating there. That’s before we knew one of our friends had more than a little “crush” on the chef.  If you’re a foodie, I could see why, based on his resume.

Executive Chef & Owner, Eric Cook is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, is a combat veteran who served six years in the United States Marine Corps. With training from the John Folse Culinary Institute, he began his culinary career at Brennan’s in the French Quarter where he studied under Chef Mike Roussel. Cook joined the team at Commander’s Palace as Sous Chef and Chef de Partie.

He’s also spent a little time on TV cooking shows.

Cook has worked on television shows such as Top Chef New Orleans and Off the Menu, After Hours with Daniel Boulud. Most recently he was featured on Gordon Ramsay’s: Uncharted on the Discovery Channel

Sharon and I are way past where we’re overly impressed by celebrity chefs. We’ve been to dinners hosted by Roy Yamaguchi in Orlando and tasted food from any number of so-called “celebrities.” For us, it’s all about the food and if it’s good or not.

When we arrived for lunch, we had to wait for a table. The friendly staff asked where we’d like to eat (inside on the upper deck, or downstairs at the kitchen counter.) As foodies, we immediately picked the counter seating. We were the only ones seated downstairs.

We looked at the menu and it was tough to choose, seeing everything being prepared and looking fantastic.

I ordered a house salad. I was pretending to be healthy but I also think you can learn a lot about a restaurant from the basic green salad. If it’s wilted and sad, they don’t care about details. This one was fantastic.

Another person in our party ordered the Chicken Gizzard Grillades (of which we didn’t take a picture). Once we saw the cosmic plane of enlightenment he entered after tasting this dish, we all tried some. I’d never consider ordering chicken gizzards but these were phenomenal.

While we were all gushing about how good this was, Executive Chef Eric Cook walked into the kitchen and started to make the salads (which explains why they were so good). This led our friend with the crush to turn several shades of red about possibly getting the chance to speak with him.

We didn’t have time to chat because our main courses were about to arrive.  I ordered the open-faced pot roast sandwich (the nearest dish)

Sharon ordered the Chicken Avocado Sandwich (with a heap of fries for a side)

And our friends ordered the Shrimp and Gris-Gris grits….

…and the oyster & Cajun Caviar Po-Boy.

As we dug into the food, Chef Eric stopped by to see how we enjoyed our meal. Despite one of our group being speechless in awe ;-), the rest of us said that the food was fantastic. We mentioned how we all liked the chicken gizzards, making him smile. Our foodie friend asked how he made them taste so good, to which he asked if he was going to try to make them at home. When he said, “Heck, yes!” the chef went step by step on how to replicate the recipe at home (so much for kitchen secrets).

Since we were chatting about how simple foods can be delicious, Chef Eric joked about how he was looking for an inexpensive item for his new restaurant (Saint John on Decatur.) He added smothered turkey necks to the menu, thinking no one would order them. Much to his amazement, they flew out of the restaurant, becoming one of the best-selling items.

By this time, we were full of food and great conversation. Unfortunately, none of us tried the Bacon, Basil and Tomato sandwich, which is apparently made with 1/2 lb. of bacon (or so it looked as they prepped it just a few feet in front of us).

While I thoroughly enjoyed all of the other meals in New Orleans, we didn’t get to chat with the Executive Chef/Owner at any of those places. While this is an award-winning restaurant, we were welcomed with open arms, and when we showed gratitude for the meal, the chef gladly shared all of his secrets. I can’t think of many other places you’d be treated with the same respect.

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Thomas Schneiter May 7, 2022 - 10:57 am

Gris Gris is definitely a restaurant I’d like to check out, but, as is the case with so many restaurants in New Orleans, there is nothing on the menu to attract a vegetarian like me. I look forward to the day when I do not have to strategies and structure my day by find8ng food I can eat.

Love to Eat May 7, 2022 - 1:13 pm

Love their salad and oyster BLT. Lunch on the balcony on a nice day was perfect meal on our trip.

Bill Murray May 8, 2022 - 12:11 pm

Eric is a good friend of mine. What a nice review,
And a pleasure to stumble across

Mary Quinn May 30, 2022 - 8:00 pm

What is the parking situation?

joeheg June 4, 2022 - 7:43 am

We were able to find street parking nearby,


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